The issue of quarrying on Saddle Hill is becoming
increasingly litigious, as the Dunedin City Council seeks an
injunction to stop work on the hill's ridge line.
The council alleges quarrying has taken place on the ridge
line despite an agreement with the owner, Saddle View Estate
Ltd, not to do so.
The council says the agreement was to not disturb the ridge
line until the Environment Court considered an earlier
application from the council for a determination on how much
quarrying could legally be carried out at the site.
The council took legal action this week to seek assurance the
ridge line would not be changed before the Environment Court
hearing, which is now scheduled for next April.
The action follows what the council says is an apparent
change in the quarry on the northern side of the ridge line
of Jaffray's Hill, the southern hump of Saddle Hill.
Cr Colin Weatherall, who has been closely involved in trying
to resolve the overall issue, said the council applied to the
Environment Court on Tuesday for an interim enforcement order
to prevent quarrying that further affected the skyline.
The council's primary goal was to have the hill's skyline
protected from change, he said.
It recognised some quarrying work could continue while a
final resolution was sought, but there had been "a
gentlemen's understanding" between himself, on behalf of the
council, and the quarry owner that the work should not
compromise the skyline profile, he said.
The council was notified by a member of the public in
September that quarrying had affected the ridge line.
Council staff investigated and agreed.
However, Calvin Fisher, the sole director of Saddle View
Estate Ltd, says there never was an agreement regarding the
ridge line, and the company continues to quarry
He said the latest court action was typical of the council,
which failed repeatedly to communicate with him, meaning he
often found out about decisions the council had made only a
few hours before they were made public.
"They only communicate when it suits them, for the agenda
they've clearly arranged."
It had been fine in the past for a council-owned company to
quarry the hill for material it needed for council projects
on contract, but when someone else wanted to quarry it, it
was a different story, he said.
When council staff started investigating quarrying activities
on the hill in 2010, the company was asked to provide
evidence to support claims it could continue quarrying in the
protected landscape conservation area.
The council's application for a determination from the
Environment Court on the legal rights of the quarry owner to
continue quarrying on the site was lodged following failed
mediation in 2011, and was to be heard next month, but will
now be heard in April 2013.
Cr Weatherall said the council sought the injunction so it
could be confident no more work would happen on the ridge
line before then.
The delays to the hearing had made it challenging for all
parties to feel assured they would get to court on a level
playing field, he said.
A judge will rule on the injunction in due course.